Sunday, August 30, 2015

Experiences at US v Slovenia

The day after our return from our walking safari near Kruger, we saw another great soccer game.  Ellis Park Stadium, the local rugby stadium that was the site of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final featured in the film Invictus, is located in the heart of Soweto; we bought tickets to park at a boys high school 2 km away, from which we could walk to the stadium.  This was a great choice for camaraderie and local experience.

In the lot, we met a family from the DC area and Boston who offered to paint our faces; some of us accepted the offer

Me with Arlington resident Cynthia, who painted our faces

Cynthia's extended family

Then a stroll through the neighborhood, both middle class bungalows with great views and poorer houses within blocks of each other.  We walked past past vendors of various kinds (note the sign offering "vuvu plugs" to lessen the pain of listening to vuvuzelas).

 Some families were out selling food and drink; I downed a boerwurst on the way in and a spicy beef stew on the way back to the car.

On the way back to our car, some local kids celebrated with a Seattle fan we met along the way.

In the gorgeous and historic Ellis Park stadium

we were in the upper level, at about the 18. All five goals were scored right in front of us (OK, one was disallowed).  We had a  great view of a painful first half, made all the more painful by two England fans sitting two rows behind us who were rooting for Slovenia (my comment to them - you are too cheap to go to Cape Town to watch your own team).  But take a gander at their (blurry) faces when we scored our goals. 

(Actually, after the second goal, one of them leaned forward and said, you deserved that).  Nobody could figure out why the third US goal was disallowed.

We drove back to Pretoria for dinner; the nice place we had reserved was rejected because Max, a family friend of our hosts and an ardent England fan, who arrived from London last night, wanted very much to see England play Algeria. He dutifully rooted for the US while in our company at the stadium; we could not deny him England on TV.  We headed over to Dros, a local chain restaurant that specializes in grilled meat.  Sad for Max – his England team managed only a scoreless tie against Algeria.  Algeria remains for the US, and a victory would be enough to see the US through; that will not be easy.  We were polite in Max’s company, but oh, if those two England fans had been sitting with us this evening......

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